The past several years have been an amazing time for genre fans. On top of being bombarded with quality genre films, horror seems to have taken over the programming on television as well. Horror has always been a part of TV, with things like Twilight Zone, Tales From The Darkside and even The X-Files, but it seems to be more prominent now, with shows like Supernatural, The Walking Dead, and of course, American Horror Story. Where AHS differs, though, is that the format is that of an anthology. Rather than each season picking up where the last left off, each season is its own self-contained story. Granted, a lot of the same actors return for each new season, but the story is entirely different, and actors do not reprise their original roles. I’m sure another show has done this in the past, but I can’t honestly think of one off of the top of my head. And even if so, it’s not something that is attempted on TV very often, so regardless it feels fresh. The first season of American Horror Story followed a family as they moved into a haunted house, and when the show came back for round two, the setting had shifted into an insane asylum, where evil lurks in both human form, as well as the inexplicable.
American Horror Story, and especially this season, entitled Asylum, is a rare form of TV horror, in that it’s accessible by the genre-uninitiated, but plays just as well to veteran fans of horror cinema. So much of the imagery and elements of the plot are direct homages to some of the genre’s greats, even some obscure nods here and there for the real aficionados. But, what really makes American Horror Story worthy of your time is the powerful acting, as well as the expert storytelling. Asylum is no exception. Some may be turned off by the various rings of plot twists, and almost as many characters to keep up with as a season of Game of Thrones, but I promise you that the payoff is worth the investment of your time(and money). Though the setting is an asylum, there is at least one character for almost every type of viewer to sympathize with, and that’s what makes for quality TV programming. Award-worthy performances, compelling storytelling, and characters that people actually care about. That’s what brings in the serial viewers.
Another noteworthy quality of American Horror Story is its ability to push the boundaries of even cable TV. Not only that, but the FX network that it airs on has pushed the boundaries of TV ever since its inception, with shows like The Shield and Rescue Me, but AHS goes further than even those shows did, which is a clear sign of progress. I know that, technically, cable channels have the ability to pretty much air whatever they want, it’s just advertiser/sponsor associations they have to worry about, and whether or not they have an advertiser/sponsor that’s willing to sell their product sandwiched in between provocative scenes of risque sex and violence. FX has always managed to make it work, though, and though you may not hear any F-bombs, in terms of sex and gore, they make with the goods. Perhaps you won’t get full-frontal nudity, not with a clear view, anyway, but you’ll be left feeling like you have, at least.
The fact that American Horror Story is shot on film, rather than digital, really lends to the quality of the Blu-ray format. Even viewing the show in 1080p through your digital TV subscription doesn’t come close to the viewing experience you’ll have watching this phenomenal show on Blu-ray with DTS audio. A lot of TV on Blu-ray sets these days skimp on the supplement material, in favor of either more ways for you to view your media, or even a tease/full episodes of a different show entirely. So, it was pleasant to see that Fox put some actual extras into this set. It’s nothing mindblowing, but if you’re a fan of the show, you do get a little something extra to consume once you’ve finished the final episode. Extras include: The Orderly, What Is American Horror Story: Asylum?, Welcome To Briarcliff Manor, The Creatures and some deleted scenes. The Blu-ray release of American Horror Story: Asylum is highly recommended to both fans of the show, as well as those that have yet to be exposed to it. You don’t have to be a horror expert to enjoy this show, but I’ll bet even if you do consider yourself as such, you’ll still enjoy it.